Exclusive: Santos unveil Rohloff/Gates belt drive road concept
Will the Speedhub work for the Sportive set?
Rohloff hub gears are normally the preserve of sturdy touring irons and the like, but when we spoke to Robbert Rutgrink from Santos at the Cycle Show earlier in the month he intimated that they were planning something a bit different... and the SRR05 is certainly different.
"The SRR05 is a concept bike which is being displayed this weekend on the Santos stand at the Bikemotion show in Utrecht", says Robbert. "No final decision has been taken regarding production as yet and the bike will probably be subject to further modification before launch if selected for production – based on reactions this weekend of course!"
In essence the bike is a belt-driven, Rohloff geared sportive mount based around an Aluminium frame. Santos are the first company in the world to be warrantied to use the Gates belt with Rohloff's hub – due in no small part to the 18,000 miles of testting the setup received at the hands of James Bowthorpe – and Santos have been through six revisions of the system now. The SRR05 uses a new dropout design that removes the need for a split seatstay when replacing the belt, and shifting is taken care of by a bar-end twist shifter that Santos have designed and built in-house. They're also experimenting with a shifter that mounts next to the stem by virtue of a two-piece bar...
The other usual Santos touches apply. There's a choice of 24 colours, hand built wheels and the bike is eyeleted for front and rear mudguards. It'll take the Tubus-made lightweight rear Santos specific rack (280grams, capacity 10kg) if you fancy a light tour, but really the bike is designed for longer distance at speed. We don't curently have a weight for the SRR05 but we'll add it when we do.
And how will the bike go down? well, we're not sure. A fair bit depends on weight and obviously with the Rohloff you're concentrating a lot of the drivetrain weight in the rotating mass of the wheel, even if overall the weight is comparable to a high-end groupset. The shifter has always been a bit of a sticking point in the road scene too, and Santos' solution, though simple, doesn't look to be an ergonomic triumph.
On the plus side this is a fully geared road bike with a maintenance load that's less than a singlespeed. Rohloff hubs don't ever go wrong, and Gates belts last about three to four times as long as a chain and don't require any care along the way. Add to that the fact that you can fit mudguards and a rack for the odd tour and it's looking like a versatile year-round machine... What do y'all think? Can the Speedhub work in this context? Discuss...